October 31, 2009

The BNP and Likeminded Volks

Here, at Instapundit:
Irresponsible and dishonest government abets evil. Plus, some further thoughts from Andrew Ian Dodge. “...The problem is that the political establishment is in a tizzy, and they have no idea how to deal with them. . . . The major parties are not addressing the subjects on which the BNP are gaining votes. Citizens are expressing concern about the present level of immigration, Muslim extremism, and lack of equal access to jobs, education, and social housing..."
Speaking of immigration:
The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and "rub the Right's nose in diversity", according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.
Arguably it's even worse in the US: the Democrats view Hispanic immigration as a source of votes, and of demand for government social services; the Republicans welcome Hispanics as potential votes for the religious right (and, of course, as cheap labor).

Addendum. "The problem is that the political establishment is in a tizzy, and they have no idea how to deal with them." Sure they do: sell the country, and traditional British liberties, out to the Eurocrats in Brussels. This is why people don't trust politicians. If the Tories win the forthcoming Brit election as expected, that smug corn-fed oaf Cameron will get Labour back in power in no time. And I've seen speculation that he'll preside over the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Good thing they cleansed the Conservative Party of Thatcherism, right? Just like US RINOs and Reagan. "Read my lips."

The More Incompetent They Become,
the More Power They Demand

I emailed that line to Instapundit and he used it.

Is society getting so complex that unintended consequences randomize the effects of policy initiatives?

October 30, 2009

Marin Alsop

I was driving around and heard the Dvorak 9th. The conductor was trying to let me know what the composer was saying rather than what he was saying about the composer.

Oops! Rather than what she was saying about the composer.

It's been a long time since I was into music as much as I'd like to be, but I remember that I could play a recording by Eugen Jochum with a score in front of me and hear every note. That's the experience that Alsop's Dvorak reminds me of.

October 23, 2009

Where Are the Physicists?

The AAAS reports it has joined other scientific societies in a letter to the Senate. The letter states that anthropogenic global warming is real and urges legislation.

The American Physical Society is not a signatory.

October 22, 2009

Why the Blogosphere (the Web?) is Unreadable

Nathan Myhrvold explains:
...Once people with a strong political or ideological bent latch onto an issue, it becomes hard to have a reasonable discussion; once you’re in a political mode, the focus in the discussion changes. Everything becomes an attempt to protect territory. Evidence and logic becomes secondary, used when advantageous and discarded when expedient. What should be a rational debate becomes a personal and venal brawl. Rational, scientific debate that could advance the common good gets usurped by personal attacks and counterattacks.

Political movements always have extremists — bitterly partisan true believers who attack anybody they feel threatens their movement. I’m sure you know the type, because his main talent is making himself heard. He doesn’t bother with making thoughtful arguments; instead, his technique is about shrill attacks in all directions, throwing a lot of issues up and hoping that one will stick or that the audience becomes confused by the chaos. These folks can be found at the fringe of every political movement, throughout all of history. Technology has amplified them in recent years. First with talk radio and then with cable TV, the extremists found larger and larger audiences.

The Internet provides the ultimate extremist platform. Every blogger can reach millions, and given the lack of scrutiny or review over content, there is little accountability. Indeed, the more over-the-top the discourse is the better — because it is entertaining. Ancient Romans watched gladiators in much the same way that we read angry bloggers.
(Cf. this comment.)

Another ploy is to find one sentence--one phrase--one word--to disagree with and behave as though the counterparty's entire position consists of that. From experience, I can say that such an attitude discourages efforts to do conscientious research like digging out hyperlinks, or to meet one's opponent halfway.

Addendum. Another ploy is to state one's position in a venomously supercilious tone. Instead of an illumination of differences and common ground, a discussion becomes a sneering/shouting match (or the vitriol-thrower is left to "win").

October 16, 2009

A Gem of a Comment

Rand Simberg reports on a space privatization effort impeded by bureaucratic red tape. Two of his commenters weigh in. I spend months going through tripe on the Web, wondering why I bother, and then suddenly there a gem like Brock's:
This is what happens when you loose sight of your values and goals, and only have rules to guide you.
Bill Maron makes sense too:
I get so tired of hearing about faceless ‘crats. It’s time to put names and faces to these unelected people who get to decide so much of our business.
That one sentence by Brock is worth more than volumes of boilerplate from libertarian/conservative pundits.

Denying Darwin

It's been said that the 20th century was the century of physics and the 21st will be the century of biology. (Even though some of the people saying it are biologists casting covetous eyes on the already low US funding for the physical sciences, the claim is plausible.) The 20th century was an American century; in 2000 it looked like the 21st would be another one. Now, quite apart from the endemic corruption and incompetence:

The public's belief in Darwinian evolution has been polled in 34 developed countries. The USA ranks second-to-last.

American exceptionalism...

Afterthought. There are also the kooks who compare skepticism about anthropogenic global warming to denial of evolution. Maybe the two factions deserve each other. Unfortunately, they bid fair to bring the country down, while shrieking that The Other is to blame.

October 14, 2009

Zero Tolerance...of Political Opposition?

Instapundit reports on Scouts being expelled from school for concocted weapons charges.

How much of such “zero tolerance” is bureaucratic stupidity, and how much is outright evil?

School administrators are part of the social-services establishment, which is dominated by the political left. They presumably are disproportionately likely to favor gun control, to deprecate the individual’s right to self-defense, to dislike the military, and to view Scouting with suspicion as a paramilitary organization.

Are they misusing the power of government against their young and defenseless future political opponents?

October 13, 2009

Islamist Plot to Blow Up the Universe

Annie Jacobsen is on top of the "story".

Right after posting this entry, I will submit the following comment:
"The LHC is not a nuclear facility. There’s nothing there that can help you obtain nuclear material, enrich nuclear fuel, build a fission or fusion device of ANY kind, detonate or deliver it. Take a big deep breath and start reporting responsibly." That much of Matthew #3's comment I can agree with.

You write, "The results, the scientists hope, will create mini black holes and allow scientists to further explore theories about what happened after the Big Bang created the universe 14 billion years ago. Throw terrorists into that mix and a lot could go wrong."

What you write about something I know a little about is flagrantly wrong. Why, then, should I rely on your judgment about things I know nothing about?

It's not a good idea to cry wolf when the threat is real.
It'll be interesting to see what happens. Not every PJM writer rejects dissenting comments, but some do.

October 12, 2009

Stating the Unmentionably Obvious

An Aussie site asks if America would go to war for oil if things got bad enough, e.g as a result of the dollar being demoted from reserve-currency status.
...But our main point is that the oil game is not just a currency game. It's a power game. And it's silly to think the U.S. would relinquish its control over the oil market so easily. There will be a fight.
(HT: Instapundit)

The war for oil might be accompanied by a civil war (which the environmental Left would likely lose). Would there be a draft and 60s-style resistance? A war for oil would be both less moral and more dictated by national interest than Vietnam was. Moreover, the US has a lot of domestic resources whose utilization currently is blocked for political reasons.

October 7, 2009

Please, Mr. Crocodile, Eat Me Last

According to Reuters, the hedge fund and private equity industries are calling for US regulation of venture capital:
WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - U.S. hedge funds and private equity firms told Congress on Tuesday that all advisers to private pools of capital should be subjected to the same level of federal scrutiny, including those managing venture capital funds.

A draft U.S. bill would require advisers of hedge funds and private equity funds to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, thus forcing more disclosures to regulators and investors.
Hedge funds had my sympathy because they were unfairly scapegoated during the finance meltdown. I've lost a good deal of it after this.

October 6, 2009

Climate, Again

Climate Research News discusses Richard Kerr's Science article What Happened to Global Warming? Scientists Say Just Wait a Bit.
Kerr continues: “So contrarian bloggers are right: There’s been no increase in greenhouse warming lately. That result came as no surprise to Knight and his colleagues or, for that matter, to most climate scientists.”

Say what!? Can someone point me to a prediction of a decade of non-warming before the temperature ’stagnation’ occurred?
Surprisingly, even the BBC has taken notice. (Here, too.)

So has Little Green Footballs commenter Thoughtful (more here):
The article goes on to state, "Researchers may differ about exactly what's behind recent natural climate variability, but they agree that no sort of natural variability can hold off greenhouse warming much longer. "Our prediction is that if past is prologue, the solar component will turn around and lead to rapid warming in the next 5 years," says Rind."
I haven't paid to read the article, but that quote sounds like a falsifiable prediction by a senior, highly credentialed climate scientist. Good for Rind.

Say what you will about the people pushing AGW: they--one of them, anyway--have put their chips in the pot.

Falsifiable predictions from skeptics and deniers would be welcome.

October 5, 2009

'Escape from Terra'

In the first story arc of Escape from Terra, a tax agent from Earth is dispatched to bring the frontier people in the Asteroid Belt into line. I read the first twenty strips or so, and the Cereans reminded me of the libertarian androids, i.e. biological humans ready to drone out their programmed ideology at the drop of a hat, in L. Neil Smith's novels.

So I went to the publisher's page...and there he is!

Smith and his sort have their hearts in the right place--but good grief are their minds naive. Ambivalent, I say to them:
So get you gone, Von Hugel, though with blessings on your head.
On second thought, no, stay.

Added to the list of online comics at right.

October 2, 2009

Nasty and Woebegone

Garrison Keillor suggests we could pay off the deficit by cutting off health care to Republicans.

It wouldn't be enough to cut Republicans off from health care. You'd have to confiscate the money they use to pay for it.

Take their money and let them die. Nice.
I stopped listening to Keillor years ago. An undertone of nastiness developed in his humor and got worse and worse. I gather that it's continued to grow.

I'm guessing that Keillor tried to get Will Rogers' old job and is increasingly embittered that the country turned him down.

Keillor is a cautionary example of what resentment can do if allowed to fester.